Bad Habits - You’ll shoot your eye out - July 11 2001

Why I’m fired up about the Fourth

I am trying to plan for the Fourth. “Are you really celebrating Independence Day,” my boyfriend asked, “or just the

independence to blow shit up?” Apparently, he’s unaware that being an American is all about the independence to blow shit up. Did we not blow the Brits off the shores of this great country? Have we not blown the hell out of many countries and peoples since then? I want to feel a kinship with

the founders of this country against tyranny, and fireworks give me that. In fact, I like to celebrate being an American on every holiday.

But my rights are being curtailed in Georgia. I have to make border runs like a common smuggler to get my firepower. And in a country where the insurance lobbyists can make it a law that you have to wear your seatbelt in your own car, it was a piece of cake to outlaw fireworks. Because most people think they are not necessary.

“Hell, there ain’t no use for ‘em. And they was invented by foreigners.”

This is stymieing my personal expression. I’m the one who brings the fireworks to every holiday, even Easter. My mom is not so sure about this, but I assure her that Jesus likes fireworks.

I had planned to blow the lid off this whole no-fireworks-in-Georgia business.

I started tracking people down. I made

calls to various government agencies. I ended up at the insurance commissioners’ office where they informed me that

fireworks have been illegal in Georgia since 1962. 1962?

I asked the gentleman on the phone, “So, why did they make them illegal?”

“Well ... ” he said slowly, “I guess ‘cause they’re dangerous.”

A lot of things are dangerous. Cars are dangerous. Plastic bags are dangerous. Sharpened pencils are dangerous. Hey, guns don’t kill people, people kill people. And fireworks don’t put people’s eyes out, people throwing fireworks at people puts people’s eyes out. Or something like that.

A few years back, I was purchasing my Christmas Eve fireworks in South Carolina and I asked for bottle rockets. The man handed me what looked like an M-80 strapped to a stick. “No, no, no,” I said, “I just want the regular bottle rockets.”

“Oh, noooo, we cain’t sell those no more,” he said. “They made those illegal. They thought the kids was gettin’ in too many fights with ‘em and gettin’ injured.”

OK, so now they sell only extra-big ones? It saddens me. Gone is the joy of hand-lofting a bottle rocket. The big ones aren’t as fun, especially if you don’t let go in time. The big ones really hurt your ears when they blow up close by.

I think this anti-firework coalition has done more harm than good. Kids, and even adults, are still going to hand-toss their bottle rockets.

Roughly 10,000 people were treated for fireworks-related injuries in 2000. How many people are in America? According to the U.S. Census, 281,421,906. So only .00365 percent of the population is being injured by fireworks. That’s not a lot. But see, it’s mainly kids. Thanks to all the kids who snuck out and blew their fingers off or whatever and ruined everything for me. I’m sorry that most of those injured are ages 5-14. Your parents should look after you better.

I am an American and if I am being oppressed, I will rebel. It’s the American way. Remember, where fireworks are outlawed, only outlaws will have fireworks.??